Drowning is a silent killer. Unlike what we often see in movies, real-life drowning is quiet, quick, and can easily go unnoticed. It’s crucial to understand the silent signs of drowning and how to recognize them, especially after swimming.
Silent Signs of Drowning
- Hyperventilating or Gasping: This could indicate water intake. It’s a natural response to panic or fear, and in the case of drowning, it’s a sign that the person is struggling to breathe.
- Inability to Call for Help: Drowning people have no time to exhale, inhale, and call out. They are too busy trying to breathe to be able to speak.
- Inability to Wave for Help: The instinctive drowning response involves pressing the arms down onto the water’s surface to try to lift the mouth out of the water.
- Remaining Upright: There’s often no evidence of kicking, and the struggle usually lasts 20-60 seconds before the person submerges.
- Glassy Eyes: Lack of focus or closed eyes are common drowning signs.
- Face Concealed: Hair covering the forehead or eyes can be a sign of drowning as the person will not have the ability to brush it aside.
- Low Head in Water: The mouth at water level and the head tilted back can be a sign of someone trying to breathe.
- Silent Behavior: Children usually make noise when they play in the water. If they go quiet, it can be a concern.
- Lack of Distress: Drowning people often don’t appear distressed. They may even be looking upwards, trying to find a way out.
- Attempting to Roll Over: Trying to adopt a vertical body position can be a sign of someone trying to keep their head above water.
- Failing to Swim in a Particular Direction: No forward progress can be a sign that the person’s efforts are focused on getting air rather than moving.
- “Doggy Paddle” Without Progress: A drowning victim may exhibit a “doggy paddle” without making any forward progress in the water.
Understanding these silent drowning signs can be the difference between life and death. Remember, drowning doesn’t always look like drowning. It’s often silent, quick, and happens even after you’ve finished swimming. Stay vigilant, stay safe.